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Canada, US must help developing nations

Canadian health minister of Indian origin urges industrial nations to aid developing nations in environmental technology.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 12:18 IST

Ujjal Dosanjh, Canada's health minister of Indian origin who is seeking re-election this month, says that developed countries should help developing countries like India address their environmental concerns.

The attorney, labour activist and politician, who was almost beaten to death for his firm stand against Sikh separatists, urged industrial nations to make environmental technologies easily available to countries such as India.

At the UN conference on global warming in Montreal last month, Prime Minister Paul Martin had railed against US President George W. Bush's withdrawal from the global environmental pact and flayed Washington for not taking part in the discussions at the meetings.

Dosanjh contended that such global conferences were important.

"I recognise that the developed world has an obligation to assist developing countries like India, China, Brazil or others that are industrialising, with environmental technologies," Dosanjh told IANS.

"Make the technology transfer easier so that the countries that are developing don't make a mess of the environment like we did when we were developing.

"You have to look at it from the perspective of all of the countries... We made a mess of the environment as we were developing... Other countries will do the same thing unless they are helped. It is in the collective interest of the world. It is not one country against the other," Dosanjh said over telephone.

He became the first Indian origin head of a Canadian province when he was sworn in as premier of British Columbia in February 2000, making the leap to federal politics in June 2004 when he was elected MP from Vancouver South. He was then appointed health minister in July 2004.

In the coming elections, with the Conservatives holding a 37 percent lead in British Columbia, Dosanjh has a three-way battle to contend with in his constituency.

His Conservative opponent Sablok Tarlok may be a virtual non-entity but he could garner some of Dosanjh's vote base. The leftist New Democratic Party (NDP) is fielding a strong candidate as well.

But Dosanjh is not too perturbed. "A poll shows we are about three points higher than what we polled in the last elections... We got 27 percent in the last elections and we are now at 30 percent.

"In my riding, issues are healthcare, some issues around immigration, foreign credentials being recognised and essentially the same issues that concern everybody else," he said.

Asked how his campaign was going, Dosanjh said: "So far we are holding our ground. In fact, the real campaign has just begun in the sense of laying bare all the facts about (Conservative leader Stephen) Harper."

Although Indo-Canadians are a significant minority in British Columbia, in Dosanjh's riding they form just 12 percent, with Chinese-Canadians making up about 50 percent.

The general election was called after Paul Martin lost a confidence vote in December.

Dosanjh said that if his party returned to power, it would continue to pursue a foreign policy independent of the US.

First Published: Jan 19, 2006 12:18 IST